Altered Five Blues Band – Holler If You Hear Me

Blind Pig Records
Publicity:  Blind Raccoon
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © 2021

With “Holler If You Hear Me” being the band’s sixth release, there should be a heck of a lot of hollering going on out there in the blues community because by now, everyone from the genre’s most serious enthusiasts to the casual listener should have heard the Altered Five Blues Band.  As a matter of fact, with that many top notch releases; a stable ensemble of very talented musicians; constant well written and well performed songs; a producer like Tom Hambridge; and working with the likes of Blind Pig Records and Blind Raccoon Publicity; Altered Five Blues Band seems set to be a perpetual force to be reckoned with when it comes to the blues.  
As they have been for some time now, Altered Five are: Jeff Taylor on vocals, Jeff Schroedl on guitar, Mark Solveson on bass, Raymond Tevich on keyboards and Alan Arber on drums.  For this project, the amazing Jason Ricci was brought in as a special guest to blow some harp on five tracks.  Produced by Tom Hambridge,  “Holler If You Hear Me” contains thirteen all new and original tracks that pretty much cover all of the blues’ sub-genres.  Having heard all of their previous releases and having reviewed several of them as well, put me on record as saying “Holler If You Hear Me” is the band’s best.
While reviewing the Altered Five Blues Band’s last release, I mentioned that the disc’s title – “Ten Thousand Watts” – could have easily been the band’s name as well.  Following my reasoning, “Holler If You Hear Me” opens with the guys putting on a most powerful presentation of the title track.  It’s a rhythm fueled rocker with Mark and Alan pounding it out on bass and drums; Jeff Schroedl and Raymond wailing on guitar and piano leads; and with wailing being synonymous with what Jason usually does on harmonica, he’s doing some of that here, as well.  Then there’s the big guy – and although the word “big” does describe his stature as well, I’m referring to Jeff Taylor’s voice – robustly belting out the vocals.  Typical Altered Five Blues Bands M-O. 
Much to my delight, the guys are as good on low down, gut wrenching, soul bearing blues as they are at those rock ’em sock ’em, blues smokers.  “Holding On With One Hand” is one of a few tracks that will indeed testify to that.  While the rhythm section is in that precise slow blues groove and Jason’s adding a few stinging harp leads behind them, it’s the Jeff’s that are absolutely killing it on this one.  With an abundance of emotion, there is no questioning Jeff Taylor’s sincerity as he sings his heart out in hopes of clinging on to the last threads of a failing relationship; and just as Clapton did on that Beatles song, as he makes his guitar weep, Jeff Schroedl is obviously feeling the pain, as well.

“He’s got pinstripes, a place in Mexico and a Maserati just for show.  That Mr. Park Avenue has sure got a lot of dough. 

– All Suit, No Soul

Sadly, the downside to that, and other clever and amusing similes, is that he’s “All Suit, No Soul”.  With the funky rhythm groove Mark, Raymond and Alan are laying down on the bass, keys and drums, and the smokin’ guitar leads Jeff Schroedl is banging out, this one is a sure dance floor filler.   
In my opening paragraph I used the words ‘well written songs’ and “Clear Conscience, Bad Memory” fits right into that group.  The interesting thing about the song is that until you hear all of it’s lyrics, you’ll never quite know how polarizing those two things can be.    
“In The Name Of No Good” is another fast paced smoker that’s a perfect fit for the Altered Five Blues Band’s songbook.  On top of fabulous instrumentation –  led by killer organ work from Raymond –  the song’s lyrics actually offer some good advice to men that women should also hear.  As a matter of fact, later on I’m going to play it for the Blewzzlady and instruct her to pay close attention to the part that says “Sometimes, every man should live it up in the name of no good”.  After I get out of the hospital I’ll let you know how that went.   
The disc closes with a “Big Shout Out” to everybody who built the blues.  It features the band in an all out jam mode smoker that may very well be the disc’s best musical track.  In the meantime, Jeff T. pays homage to “just a few” of the genres pioneers and legends by naming forty-one of them.  A very nicely done presentation indeed.   
This is another excellent slow blues number that features Jeff Taylor melancholically placing a ‘warning’ sign around his own neck.  Wearing his heart on his sleeve as he openly confesses his many downfalls, he flat out tells a woman worthy of a better man than himself that she’d better “Leave Before I Let You Down”. 
Other tracks on this excellent release include: “Guilty Of A Good Time”; “If You Go Away (She Might Come Back)”; “Full Moon, Half Crazy”; “Where’s My Money?”; “I Got All I Need”;  “Fifteen Minutes Of Blame”.

“The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy”
 Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient